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Storm clouds gather over Chippenham scheme

July 6, 2022 8:48 PM
By WC

Press release below from WC. It's one of those where the answer lies between the lines. The WC administration's grandiose scheme to damage Chippenham with a big road and a huge housing allocation does though seem to be in jeopardy, as no agreement has been achieved with the government over the funding. WC has wasted quite a lot of money already in preparing the scheme.

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At their meeting on Tuesday 12 July 2022, Cabinet will be asked to consider reaffirming its decision made on 21 July 2021 to proceed with a road route and housing development only to the south of Chippenham.

This revised scheme comprises a southern section of the distributor road from the A4 through to the A350 junction at Lackham roundabout delivering around 4,050 new homes and associated infrastructure subject to the Local Plan review and the Housing Infrastructure funding (HIF) from Homes England.

The Cabinet report confirms that the council has not yet secured a revised Grant Determination Agreement (GDA) with Homes England to reflect the decision made last year for a revised scheme. As a result, the council has continued to progress the Future Chippenham programme in good faith but at risk. Cabinet is now being asked to agree that further work is paused, including the procurement of the road and associated design and investigatory works, until a revised GDA is agreed with Homes England.

Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "The council and Homes England have been working together over the past year to reach agreement on the revised GDA and discussions are continuing. Throughout this time the Future Chippenham programme has been progressed, but it has now reached the stage where significant design and procurement work should commence which would expose the council to substantial financial risk. It is only prudent for Cabinet to consider pausing this work and minimise the impact of at-risk work on the council's finances.

"However, we cannot pause indefinitely so if a revised GDA cannot be agreed soon, the council may need to negotiate an exit from the existing GDA as it will not be possible to deliver the project within the HIF funding period without exposing the council to financial risk."

The Cabinet report also asks Cabinet to note the outcome of the recent judicial review and agrees that subject to agreeing a revised GDA, the Future Chippenham team can submit further representations to the Local Plan review.

It is really important to note that the Local Plan, subject to an evidence-based process and the scrutiny of a planning inspector, is the point at which any future housing development will be allocated and be subject to the statutory planning process.